Texas oil companies pump more than $17 million into fighting Washington carbon tax

A Citgo oil refinery stands in Corpus Christi, Texas, U.S. Photographer: Eddie Seal/Bloomberg
A Citgo oil refinery stands in Corpus Christi, Texas, U.S. Photographer: Eddie Seal/Bloomberg

Texas oil companies have pumped more than $17 million into a campaign opposing a carbon tax in Washington state.

The refiners Phillips 66 of Houston and Andeavor of San Antonio, and the U.S. subsidiary of the British oil major BP  have poured more than $17 million into “No on 1631” campaign, which seeks to defeat the carbon tax initiative in  the Nov. 6 election. If passed, the initiative would create the  the first carbon tax in the United States.

Those opposed to the initiative have raised more than $20 million, according to state campaign finance records.

Those supporting Initiative 1631 have raised more than $6.1 million, with The Nature Conservancy donating the largest amount at $1 million.

Initiative 1631 would impose a fee of $15 per metric ton of carbon on large emitters that would increase by $2 each subsequent year and adjust for inflation. The fee would be imposed on fossil fuels sold or used within the state and electricity generated within or imported for consumption in Washington.

Supporters say the initiative would raise $2.3 billion during the first five years, and the funds would be collected in a “clean up pollution fund” in the state treasury. Seventy percent of the funds would be used on clean air and energy investments, with another 25 percent used for clean water and healthy forest investment. The remainder would be spent on what the initiative calls “healthy communities investments.”

Other oil and gas companies that have spent money opposing the initiative include Chevron Corp., headquartered in San Ramon, Calif,. the Dallas refiner HollyFrontier, and oil and gas industry group American Fuel, and Petrochemical Manufacturers.

Andeavor, which is being bought by Ohio-based Marathon Petroleum Corp., and another company spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in 2017 in a failed attempt to support a Vancouver, Wash. port commissioner. Andeavor and Savage Cos. had been attempting to develop a $210 million crude oil-by-rail terminal in the Port of Vancouver, a project that was voted down by port commissioners in early 2018.

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